02/10/2015 06:30 BST | Updated 01/10/2016 06:12 BST

Mars Water: How Lunar Mission One Can Help Unlock its Potential

NASA's discovery of water on Mars is a tremendous boost for future exploration. It holds the promise of supplying and running a base on Mars, making a crewed mission much more credible.

The more resources that can be found on Mars, the less that needs to be taken from Earth - and that hugely drops the cost of the mission.

But the water cannot pool on the surface for long because the atmospheric pressure is too low. The salts in the water that delay the evaporation also make it difficult to use. To reach the true reserves, we will have to drill for it.

This means developing new technology because even if the water lies just 10 meters below the Martian surface, humankind has never drilled that deeply into another celestial body.

Testing the deep drilling technology needed to reach the Martian water is exactly where Lunar Mission One comes in. And where you come in.

The project was founded in 2008 to investigate a way of crowd-funding a serious scientific mission. By consulting with planetary scientists, it was clear that a drilling mission to the Moon's South Pole would be valuable in many ways.

Rocks from the Moon's interior will supply answers to some of the most profound questions about how the Moon, the Earth and the other planets -- including Mars - formed 4.6 billion years ago. So, Lunar Mission One is working to provide access to these natural time capsules.

Lunar Mission One also aims to investigate the prospects for a permanent lunar base. The Moon is expected to become an important part in the future logistics of the human exploration of Mars, and to help reduce its huge expense.

A highly successful Kickstarter campaign in 2014 demonstrated the public appetite for funding science and exploration. It raised more than $1 million dollars, allowing the detailed preparation phase to begin. This has been completed and now we are working to raise more money through our Footsteps on the Moon campaign.

This will enable our industrial partners to begin their work in earnest. If successful in our fundraising, 2016 will see the first dedicated tests of the drill technology we intend to use and the first industrial studies of the whole mission. Both are important landmarks on the road to success.

If successful, Lunar Mission One will also provide an invaluable lunar test of the technology that could then be sent to Mars. Once there, it is not just water that could be found.

During the NASA press conference, there was some debate about whether the discovery of this salty surface water increased the chances of microbial life on Mars. One thing is certain, if there is life, it will be underground with the main supplies of water. So, if there is an increased chance of life on Mars, then Lunar Mission One is developing the technology needed to find out. This includes the remote extraction of cores for analysis of the rock without contaminating the samples.

As great as the water on Mars story is, perhaps the bigger story is the public's reaction to the news. It made headlines across the world. The day after, the Google doodle celebrated the discovery. The last time something brought people together like this was the European Space Agency's comet landing in November 2014 - again a space achievement.

Clearly, space exploration has the power to energize us as individuals, and unite us as a species. Together, we can help unlock the secrets of the past as well as paving the way to the future.

Your participation is vital if we are to success. Help us turn Lunar Mission One into Lunar Mission Everyone. Find out how to get involved here:

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